Planning to have a tooth or wisdom teeth extraction in the near-future? You may be wondering if it’s possible to keep your tooth. Though most patients are happy to ditch their tooth for all the trouble it gave them, some patients, especially young ones, want to save it as an interesting memento. Below is more information about keeping your extracted tooth and preserving it for the future.
Many patients are under the impression that it’s illegal to keep extracted teeth. While every dentist will have his or her own preferences, there are no federal laws or regulations that prohibit or discourage it.
OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard names extracted teeth as a potentially infectious material, which should be handled accordingly (i.e. disposed of in approved medical waste containers). But those instructions apply to your dentist, not you. OSHA only regulates employees, not patients. Once the tooth is in your possession, it’s considered your property, and OSHA standards no longer apply.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating on its website: “Extracted teeth may be returned to the patients upon request, and are not subject to the provisions of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.” So there you have it—your dentist is legally quite free to return your tooth to you. Whether she does or doesn’t is a matter of personal preference, not legal compliance.
Teeth are quite tough and very resilient. When anthropologists dig up thousand-year-old skulls, the teeth are often intact. And, as you may know if you are a fan of true crime shows, the teeth are often the only part of the body that remains after the rest has decomposed. They are even fire and heat resistant, to a degree.
In summary, all you have to do to preserve a tooth is kill any bacteria on it with rubbing alcohol or a similar disinfectant. Once it’s clean, store it in an airtight container, and it should hold up well for the rest of your lifetime—or even thousands of years, depending on the conditions it winds up buried in!
Thanks for checking out our Statesville dentist blog. If you are in need of a tooth extraction or other dental treatment near Statesville NC, just give us a call, and Dr. Schmidt will be happy to see you!